Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Chukka upgrades adventure park at Good Hope

Published:Friday | April 7, 2017 | 4:00 AM
A section of the Good Hope property in Trelawny.
CEO of Chukka Adventures John Byles (left), Chukka Director of Group Revenue & New Development Marc Melville (centre), Blaise Hart, owner of Good Hope, speak about upgrades of the adventure park.
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Buoyed by what they see as a steady increase in both cruise and stopover arrivals, attraction owners Chukka Caribbean Adventures pumped US$4 million into upgrading their adventure park and waterfall in Good Hope, Trelawny.

Marc Melville, Chukka's director of group revenue and new developments, said in an interview on Wednesday that the phase-three expansion has transformed the Good Hope facility into "the jewel" of the Chukka operations, allowing guests to be "as adventurous as they want to be.

"We are very encouraged by what we are seeing throughout the industry," Melville said. "We see the ships coming and we also see the environment being created that is conducive to tourism. With all of that in mind, we just felt the time is right to step it up a notch."

Melville explained that prior to spending any money, the Chukka management went on a tour of all the islands and visited every attraction.

"Our market research showed that visitors are more inclined to want to go to an attraction that is family-oriented, affordable, has a water-based activity, and is in proximity to the ship or hotel. In addition, it should also ideally have authentic local food, drink, experience and people," he said.

He noted that with tourism being so competitive and with the other islands looking to move beyond mere sand, sun and sea, "it is important for Jamaica's attractions to stay ahead of the curve.

"It was very important that we did that market research. What it did was put us in a position where we could create something that would be so unique while at the same time fulfilling the passion points of the guests and meeting their satisfaction," the Chukka director said.

Chukka Good Hope currently employs 200 workers, many of whom Melville said are from communities in and around Falmouth. He said that while Good Hope was able to pull in some 75,000 to 80,000 guests in 2016, he fully expects that figure to jump to well over 100,000 by the end of 2017.

Good Hope Great House, which has been around for 200-plus years, rests on a more-than-2,000-acre property that is flush with plant life, a primary jungle, and offers scenic views of the Cockpit Country and Martha Brae River. The property is owned by the Harts.

Chukka's CEO, John Byles, said that since the inception of the Good Hope tour in 2010 and the phase-two expansion in 2013, his company had started to realise that the property could be transformed into a one-of-its-kind attraction in the Caribbean.

"With our 50-foot cascading waterfall, 300-foot tubular waterslide, 14,000-square-foot swimming pool, dining area in the restored sugar factory from the 1700s, there is really nothing to compare this with in the region," Byles said.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com